US, Iran treaty transforms United States relations
WHEN Americans elected President Barack Obama, no one could have guessed how far he was prepared to go to transform the United States internal and external relations. In this article we will concentrate on the Iran-Cuba relations, and how far reaching their impact will be.
The US, sitting side by side with European allies and the Russians, worked out a 158-page treaty with Iran that will postpone that country’s nuclear ambitions for 15 years. The US congress, which is in Republican hands, believes that such a deal is legally called a treaty. If so, the US senate must approve of it by a two-thirds majority.
The deal came about because of a unilateral sanctions regime imposed by former president George Bush which saw Iran’s currency lose its value by 50 percent, its economy suffer a 20 percent inflation and US$100 billion of its assets in Europe and the US frozen.
Directly related to this imposition was the fact that Iran’s oil infrastructure was outdated by 20 years. Whether a continuation of this sanction regime could have seen a regime change in Iran is debatable.
What was missing in the negotiation scenario is Israel’s presence, a reminder that Britain’s Neville Chamberlain once negotiated the destruction of Czechoslovakia with Adolf Hitler. The Czechs were not consulted.
Israel has a justifiable complaint. This, however, is the mother of all deals, on which US global leadership will be transformed. Until now, the US saw itself in what Latin Americans call the numero uno (the big dog) which can do whatever it wishes in the world, without any possible challengers. The US-Iran treaty transforms this relationship to one where the US is only primus inter pari (the first among equals).
Within this complicated scenario, Israeli, through the Jewish lobbies in the US, demanded unwavering support for its policies in the Middle East. In the latest case, Israeli Prime Minister exceeded his powers by addressing the US congress and urging them to reject the deal before it was consummated. Republicans, who fell for this ruse, did not bother to read the treaty, vowed to kill it without bothering to read it.
In their defence, Israelis say that lifting Iran sanctions will fuel Iran’s growing hegemony and destabilisation in the Persian Gulf. Obama, in a rare Third World centric expose, argued that the “biggest threats in the Middle East are not coming from Iran or the Islamic State (Isis) but from dissatisfaction inside their own countries.”
This is a far-reaching observation. Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Yemen and Syria cannot blame the US for the rise of Isis in that region. In the past, the US was used by these countries to suppress the ambitions of their citizens. To the detriment of the US, its whole industrial complex was expended in costly wars paid for by American blood and treasure. The US refuses to play this role any longer.
The new policy therefore heralds a transformation of US foreign policy. It will henceforth influence but not impose its will on other countries.
Obama seeks to change the relationship between congress and the presidency. His presidency has illustrated the fact that the US constitution, once considered the mother of all constitutions, is full of holes.
Since the Republicans vowed to oppose every measure he proposed from day one of his inauguration, they have played the role of the virgin who protests too much. Having opposed Obama universal health care, they thought that the supreme court would do what they failed to do through the electoral process.
They lost the battle to preserve man-woman marriage traditions. They failed to prevent the nationalisation of police forces which played the role of occupying forces in the black community. They lost the battle to support Mexican immigration. All these were achieved by devious means, using presidential powers, imaginary and assumed.
In the Iran-Cuba deal, Obama lifted sanctions on Cuba unilaterally and established an embassy there. Congress, if it objects, as it does, will need a two thirds majority to override his veto. In Iran’s case, the treaty is not called a treaty but an agreement (meaning no senate approval is required). In any case, the United Nations Security Council will approve the lifting of sanctions. The senate is then left with a fait accompli.
If the senate refuses to approve, it loses UN approval for the sanctions regime.
Kids are writing essays on how Obama was able to achieve so much without congressional support as is required by the US constitution. The secret seems to lie in a fundamental transformation of the US populace itself, due to immigration policies enacted in 1972. Previously, the US opened its doors to European immigrants only, who, when they achieved a modicum of prosperity, tended to vote conservatively.
African, Asian and Latino immigrants have a different world view. Whether they achieve material prosperity or not, they remain suspicious of US meddling in foreign countries, whose societies it is incapable of comprehending. This new matrix of voters has no special sympathy for Israel. Obama expressed this view this way. “I must express my disagreement with the treatment of Palestinians by Israel without being regarded anti-Israel.”
When Iranian Supreme leader Ali Khamenei expresses ill-feeling towards the “arrogant US” many educated Americans will sympathise with that view. The transformation of US foreign policy follows the population geometrics of the past 20 years.